Spit or swallow, Labour cannot ignore the Tory manifesto

Labour leadership contender Yvette Cooper has stated that her rivals for the top job are "swallowing the Tory manifesto." Coming from the wife of Ed Miliband’s shadow chancellor, such comments will send a chill down the spine of Labour activists. Why spit out a winning formula?

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Here we go again: Labour is repeating the mistakes of Ed Miliband
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Steven George-Hilley
On 31 May 2015 18:11

The Labour leadership contest was supposed to be a beauty parade of the party’s best and brightest, and draw a line under the tragi-comedy act that was Ed Miliband. Labour is currently 99 seats behind David Cameron’s Conservatives and polled an eye-watering two million less votes.

The 2015 election wasn’t just a heavy defeat, it was more like a massacre, raising questions over whether the Labour Party can get its act together in time to stand a fighting chance in five years’ time.

When your party has performed even worse than it did under Gordon Brown, you know it’s time for change. For all the ups and downs along the way, the Conservative Party recognised this when it made David Cameron its leader. He refreshed the brand and the values, and eventually led the party to a stunning victory at the ballot box.

But if you were watching The Andrew Marr Show on BBC One on Sunday morning, you could be forgiven for thinking that Labour had fallen just a few seats short.

Viewers were treated to Yvette Cooper, wife of Ed Balls (the man who thought that Labour didn’t spend too much) claiming her rivals were making a mistake by, "swallowing the Tory manifesto".

The thinly veiled attack on fellow leadership contender Liz Kendall was not remarkable for its viciousness, but it was for its pure ignorance.

This was the Tory manifesto that propelled David Cameron into Number 10 with a decent majority. This was the manifesto that chimed with working people in Britain, and this was the manifesto that defeated Ms. Cooper’s own husband.

These comments fit comfortably alongside Ed Miliband’s resignation speech, where he openly apologised for his defeat, but made no reference to changing the party for the future. It seems that Ed Balls, Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham all believe that Labour had the right arguments, but it was the public that got it wrong.

Such extraordinary arrogance and delusion mirrors the all-white Oxbridge shambles that this Labour leadership contest has put before its members, and the British people.

Once upon a time, for all its faults, the Labour Party used to be a party of some notable heavy-hitters. Peter Mandelson, Tony Blair, John Reid, David Blunkett, Jack Straw and even John Prescott were formidable politicians, whether you liked them or loathed them.

Contrast these names against the urine-level poor performance of those currently hoping to lead the Labour Party, and it's clear they won’t be winning a general election anytime soon.

The candidates for this contest can be best summed up as the Mid-Staffs scandal candidate, the wife of Ed Miliband’s debt-King, and a nice woman called Liz who is being knifed by the Unions.

The simple truth is that Labour is suffering its biggest identity crisis for a generation. It’s not about whether they are left or right, but about whether they remain relevant to the British people.

In 2015, Labour crossed its fingers and allowed a quasi-Marxist North London geek to put a weird sixth form seminar before the British people, instead of a serious manifesto.

That document made its hostile intentions towards hard-working people crystal clear, and also reinforced public fears that you simply cannot trust Labour with our economic future.

The current tribe of privileged, out of touch, metropolitan liberals have made it clear they are going to make the same mistakes as Ed Miliband all over again.

Labour’s future hangs in the balance, and with no alternative candidates stepping up to the mark, 2020 looks likely to provide another thumping Conservative majority.

Steven George-Hilley is Associate Editor of The Commentator and a director at the Parliament Street think tank. @StevenGeorgia

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